More than half of people aged over 45 believe later life social care policy is being neglected by government because of Brexit negotiations, new research has revealed.
With the Social Care Green Paper – originally due in 2017 – still yet to be published, and with a further delay indicated in the Spring Statement, the research by finance specialist Just Group shows that 51% of over 45s living in the UK believe the issue is being neglected due to Brexit.
It also highlights the high level of scepticism that any particular party coming into power in the near future would act quickly on reforming what many believe is a crumbling social care structure.
“Reform of later life social care is one of the biggest policy issues the country faces and it is clear that most people think progress is being impacted by Brexit,” said Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group.
“It’s a widely held opinion – the number is consistent across both genders and at all age groups from 45 up. It is a view shared not just by two-thirds of those who voted remain, but by four in 10 who voted leave too.”
Four in 10 respondents (41%) who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum and two thirds (66%) who voted to remain agreed that Brexit is leading to social care policy being overlooked.
Less than one in four (23%) of leave voters and one in 10 (8%) of remain voters disagreed.
However, remainers are far more concerned than leavers that Brexit will negatively affect the provision and quality of social care in later life.
More than half (52%) of remainers said they are quite/very worried, compared to 15% of leave voters.
Among those who were worried, 80% said they thought it would lead to less funding from government, 62% said they thought tightened immigration will reduce staff numbers, 61% said they thought medicines would be more expensive, and 53% worried there could be a shortage of vital supplies.
One thing both leavers and remainers seem to share is a widespread scepticism about whether the three main political parties would move quickly in future to push forward social care reforms at a time when many believe the current funding framework is already close to collapse.
“There was scepticism, perhaps after so many delays, that any party would grasp the nettle,” said Lowe.
“If Labour got into power, only 9% thought it was very likely they would set out a clearly defined policy in the first two years, compared to 34% who thought it not at all likely. For the Liberal Democrats, 3% thought it likely compared to 38% not at all likely. For the Conservatives, 6% thought it likely compared to 32% not at all likely,” he added.
“As you might expect, Brexit supporters are a lot more optimistic about the longer term effects of leaving the EU than those who voted to remain.”